By Molly McCowan
Located in the southwest corner of the state, Pagosa Springs is a small town (population less than 1,600 according to a census taken in 2000) with a lot of heart. Every year, this town draws people from all over Colorado, New Mexico and beyond for one of the most unique folk music festivals in the country.
The Four Corners Folk Festival is an annual music festival held on one of the mountainous hills that surround Pagosa Springs during Labor Day weekend (September 2-4). The fest provides a fun, energetic atmosphere based around folk music and creating a safe, family-friendly festival environment.
Some of the featured musicians/bands to play this year’s fest include Keb Mo‘, The Infamous Stringdusters, Fort Collins’ own SHEL, The Punch Brothers (featuring mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile – these guys will stop at the Mishawaka on Sept. 2 as well), Los Lobos, Anne & Pete Sibley, Caravan of Thieves and many, many more.
The festival also offers free workshops, ranging from how to sing bluegrass harmonies, beginning to advanced instrument courses (banjo, guitar, mandolin, etc.), how to write a folk song and more.
Attendees can camp on the hill and secure a vehicle pass that allows them to bring their car up with them, but these kinds of passes sell out quickly, so interested parties need to act quickly. There is also day parking at the bottom of the hill, and volunteer-driven (a.k.a. free, but donations appreciated) shuttles run to and from the parking area and the festival center on an hourly basis throughout the weekend.
Pagosa Springs is famous for its Hot Springs, located within five minutes of the festival site. The Pagosa Hot Springs boasts over 20 pools ranging from 94-120 degrees (temperatures change throughout the day), a sauna, swimming pool and full spa. Buying a pass to the hot springs will also provide festivalgoers with a hot shower every day (a camping luxury!). Showers are also available at the community center, which is only a stone’s throw from the festival parking area.
There are food vendors at the festival and free water jug filling locations around the festival area, but bring extra food and snacks for the late night campfire jam sessions that go on rain or shine.
Speaking of rain, be sure to be prepared for changes in temperature – weather in this area can vary widely, dropping to 40 degrees some evenings and shooting up to temperatures in the 90s the next day.
If you’re a fan of folk and bluegrass music and want to take a vacation to beautiful Southern Colorado this Labor Day weekend, head on down to Four Corners Folk Festival. It promises to be a heck of a good time!
A 3-day camping and festival pass is $117. An on-site vehicle camping pass (which you’ll need if you are car camping) costs extra, and is $45. Day passes are also available, ranging from $40-$50. For more information, visit folkwest.com/fourcornersfolkfest/index.html.